The San Juan Daily Star
MVC lawmaker sues House leaders for squelching minority party representation in committees
By The Star Staff
Citizen Victory Movement (MVC by its Spanish initials) Rep. José Bernardo Márquez Reyes on Monday sued Speaker of the House of Representatives Rafael Hernández Montañez and Deputy Speaker José “Conny” Varela Fernández on Monday, alleging they do not have adequate representation of all parties in legislative committees.
Márquez said the two are abusing their power and violating constitutional and regulatory mandates guaranteeing the effective participation of the political opposition in legislative processes, particularly in committees.
Section 11.1 of the House Rules provides that “[a]ll parties with representation in the House of Representatives will have effective participation in all committees.”
In the first legislative session in 2021, Márquez said, he introduced House Bill 691 to facilitate young people’s voter registration through what is known as an “Automatic Voter Registration.”
On Feb. 23 of this year, the House Electoral Affairs Committee, chaired by Varela, held a referendum to issue a negative report on the bill. The referendum sheet reveals that only nine PDP voters voted against the bill’s approval. No minority legislators participated in the vote, Márquez pointed out.
Márquez said he was tired of the “continuous cynicism” in the Legislature and rejected the remark that “this is how things have always worked in the Legislature.”
“Here is a constitutional and regulatory rule to recognize all political delegations’ effective participation in legislative processes,” the freshman MVC lawmaker said. “But this House has reached the absurdity that a committee can give a negative report to a bill without notifying its members or allowing them to vote.”
“They just defeated an important bill for the people I represent,” Márquez added. “And it’s not just that they didn’t call me to vote, but they didn’t call anyone. They looked for the signatures of nine PDP [lawmakers]; that was it. The measure was defeated without the participation of the other parties.”
He said other political delegations had faced similar situations. Still, they have yet to choose to take the matter to court.
The House did not answer STAR requests for comment.